Exercise Lite. Part 1

This letter requests to publish in Fitness Management next month our opinion as to the meaning, intent, probable behavioral and social effects, and health implications of the “Exercise Lite” public awareness message that was issued jointly in the summer of 1993 by the American College of Sports Medicine and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. We are motivated to offer our perspective after reading with considerable concern the article on this topic that you published by Drs. Jim Peterson and Cedric Bryant (February 1995, 28-30). They lament that “Exercise Lite” seems to abandon the very foundations of science and health that have been the hallmarks of ACSM policy statements. They speculate that the ultimate effect of this message actually will be the discouragement of health-enhancing exercise behavior among Americans. We do share our two colleagues’ concerns about the inadequate levels of physical activity, exercise and physical fitness across the American population. We also share their enthusiasm for promoting meaningful increases in exercise behavior so as to counter this problem.

We differ entirely on what Exercise Lite means for the quantification of physical activity levels among those who are below the threshold for minimal benefits to health. We differ also from our colleagues on how we believe the message may influence a special potion of the population — those in the lowest activity strata who are contemplating a sustainable increase in their personal physical activity pattern.

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